Shiretoko March 2012
As winter comes closer to an end, the ice pack that engulfs most of the sea of Okhotsk reaches its southernmost limit and comes licking the north-east coast of Hokkaido, and in cold years like this year goes all the way into the Nemuro strait, bridging for a couple of weeks the gap between the Shiretoko peninsula and the Russia-occupied island of Kunashiri. In the same time, a great number of wintering Steller and White-tailed eagles congregate off the fishing town of Rausu, enjoying free feeding from the locals before heading back to their breeding grounds around Kamchatka. These huge birds, Steller eagles are by several measures the biggest eagles on earth, offer fantastic viewing and photographing opportunities as they compete for bait in front of a unique scenery of ice floes and snow-covered volcanoes. Should you feel like using more of your legs, a pair of snowshoes will give you access to endless possibilities of hiking into the Shiretoko pristine wilderness, which is teeming with deers and red foxes in winter.